Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Uni Papua goes to Sabu Island East Timor

with our passion, we reach Sabu Island, East Timor for Social Development through Football.

Monday, September 8, 2014


September 6, 2014.  Off the northern coast of Papua lies Biak Island, one of Indonesia’s 17,000+ islands that make up the worlds largest Archipelago. This remote island exists today as it’s own natural paradise, untouched by traveling tourists and nearly free of western influence.  But the simplicity of the island is what makes it so unique; Papuans grow and catch their own food and rely on traditions and their own ideas to develop. The remoteness of the land and seclusion from outside sources makes it difficult for Biak to advance in many ways. One of the main problems Biak faces today is the high rate of HIV/AIDS. The regions of Papua and West Papua have two of the highest HIV prevelency rates in Indonesia and the reality is that if traditions stay the same and education about how to protect against HIV/AIDS is never implemented then these numbers will continue to grow.
Social issues on the island, such as this one are why people like Harry are so important to the future of Biak. Harry founded Uni Papua, a sport for social development NGO, and has been working on Biak island for two years. He has high hopes for the future of Biak and Papua and is adamant about Uni Papua’s partnership with CAC, using football as a tool for social change. Last year Uni Papua existed in one location on Biak, but this year they have coaches in three different communities on the island.
When Brian and I arrived on Saturday we spoke at Biak’s radio station which aired internationally throughout all of Indonesia and the neighboring country of Papua New Guinea. The People of Biak are very appreciative of our time and efforts in their communities. Over the course of the week the coaches learned football games to teach young kids about gender equity, conflict resolution, health and wellness, and and entire day was spent on HIV/AIDS. Our goal is to develop problem solvers, creative thinkers and  educated leaders who don’t need to rely on others to make decisions or solve their problems for them. Once the coaches can fully grasp the self-directed learning model of coaching, they are sure to make a difference in the lives of children in their communities. A couple of the coaches that participated in the first year program stood out among the rest which gives us some knowledge of how CAC has had an impact in Biak.
The problem solving games were the most impactful over the 5-day coaching camp as the coaches found ways to strategize and problem solve on their own. After playing a game called Old Trafford tag, where players link together when tagged; they used an analogy about how their chain represented a fishing net to catch all the remaining players. It was neat to see them relate a real-world application to solve their problem.
Personally it was another week full of surprises and sensory overload in the world of CAC. I think the only time I stopped grinning was when I found worms living in the basin of water I used to shower with everyday. From the tree house nestled deep in the jungle that I dreamt of living in as a kid, to laughing with the children we met at schools across the island every morning, I have fallen in love with the Papuan people and the beautifully exotic paradise island I called my home for seven days.
Writing never does enough to encapsulate all that I experience with CAC, but with every village I enter, every school I visit, and every coach I work beside I am able to see the power football can have on a community. And even more so I am able to see the value of social impact through sport that CAC offers around the world.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

How can a river contain so much water when its upstream spring is just a trickle?

How can a river contain so much water when its upstream spring is just a trickle?

This question was in Daniel Alexander’s mind when he traversed the great Mahakam River in East Kalimantan many years ago.

After tracking the 1,000 kilometer-long river to its primary water spring, he found the answer that was to become his life philosophy.

The spring inspired him to turn his life into an act of giving. His choice was to give education to less-privileged children in Papua under the aegis of the Pesat Foundation. 

Starting with one school in Nabire 20 years ago, the foundation now has dozens of schools spanning 11 provinces.

“Eighty percent of the schools adopt a free education system,” Daniel recently told a group of 40 Indonesian students at a Griffith University campus in Brisbane.

So how did all of this happen?  

“The water spring taught me to keep enough to support my family. I returned the rest to the community through the school program,” said the educator-cum-social worker.

The explained that the trickle of water from the upstream spring received additional water from other springs as it headed out to sea. More water came from the river’s tributaries and from the rain, swelling the volume of water that made the river, Daniel said. 

The lesson was, he said, whatever is given back to the community, it will only grow manifold.

“A hundred years from now, nobody will ask you how much money you have or what kind of car are you driving. Instead, people will ask what you have done for others,” said Daniel, who was born in the East Java capital of Surabaya in 1956.

Anjar, a PhD student in environmental science, said she was fascinated by the analogy. “I never thought that way,” she says, ”although I often scaled rivers as part of my research.”
Daniel asked his campus audience what would happen if the spring and the tributaries refused to give water back to the river?

“Floods will occur,” the students replied.

Daniel said: “The most difficult thing to say in this world is to say ‘I have enough’. The failure to say ‘I have enough’ is the biggest sin of humanity.”

According to him, many people felt they never had enough and kept on adding to whatever they had accumulated.

He viewed floods as a metaphor for a world abundant with promises of wealth.  

His practice of giving back has won him the attention of thousands of students over the years.

“Six of them now have doctoral degrees. Hundreds of them are university graduates,” said Daniel who first went to Papua in 1993.

Born into a poor family, Daniel grew up with a determination to lessen the suffering of others. He worked his way up to eventually study and live in Australia, which he did from 1985 before moving to Papua.

Asked why he chose Papua as his starting point, he said he found the contrasts in the eastern-most province of Indonesia to be unbearable.

“The province is so rich and yet the people are so poor,” Daniel said.

A student asked if he had ever burned out in his 20 years work.

“Never. On the contrary, I get more spirited from one day to another,” he said.

However, in one of the poorest regions of Indonesia, offering an opportunity for children to go to school is barely enough. 

The offer has to be complimented with an assurance that the children will have good food to sustain their health.

Another challenge is to introduce the culture of learning in a community where schooling is an alien concept. Parents often do not believe in education and prefer their children to work.

Daniel chose to set up a dormitory, with children between the ages of four and seven from around Nabire comprising the first batch of students.  

Daniel said he believed children had talent from the day they were born.

“Children are like arrows that are longing for the care and love of their parents,” he said.

He believed no child was born evil, echoing the ideas of world-renowned author and educator Dorothy Nolte.

“Only bad environments and bad upbringings turn a child evil,” he said.  

This was the reason why, he said, he often went to prisons to ask whether the inmates had children.

“The chances are that these kids have stopped going to school because their imprisoned parents can’t afford to pay the school fees,” he said.

In that case, he said, the foundation would take care of them.

Daniel said he was a regular visitor to about 40 percent of prisons in Indonesia.

“Once I was summoned by the Law and Human Rights Ministry. It turned out that they only wanted to see me because my name was often being mentioned by many prison staff,” he laughed.   

His penchant for visiting prisons earned him the nickname “the collector of nasty people” among his colleagues, as those he usually helped out were drug users and repeat offenders. He even became a victim of theft a day after he brought one freed prisoner home.

“I lost everything, including my new laptop and camera, but never mind. I took it easy,” he said casually as if it was not a big deal. 

Daniel lives in Nabire with his wife Lucy Luise Tanudjaja, an Indonesian who lived in Canada before her marriage to Daniel. The couple is childless.

“I married late,” he said. “It was not easy to find someone who liked to live in a remote area. Perhaps this is the reason we are childless, but I have thousands of kids now.”



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